Boulder, CO – Neo-soul goddess Erykah Badu and Hip Hop luminary Common dated from 2000 to 2002. After they broke up, Common did some soul-searching and realized there was something strange about the way he behaved during that time. During a speech at The University of Colorado-Boulder last month, the Chi-Town legend explained what he learned from Badu.
“I discovered I didn’t truly believe in myself wholeheartedly with every morsel that I had in my body and I discovered that through a breakup,” he told a packed crowd. “I was in a relationship with Erykah Badu. When we did break up, one of the most important things I discovered was that I was scared to wear my greatness. I was afraid to wear my greatness, which meant, I could be in a relationship and dim my light for others.”
“I could be around other artists and dim my light for others,” he continued. “I could get around my parents and dim my light. I could get around friends who I felt like I might make them uncomfortable ’cause I was doing something that they hadn’t maybe achieved yet or they weren’t happy with the way they were so, I would dim my light for others.”
While Common nursed his broken heart, he began to read books about self-exploration and came to a life-changing conclusion.
“I learned that you can never dim your light,” he said. “Your light is created for you to be in this world and put that light up on a lamp stand so that anyone who walks into that roomwill see that light. We dim our light for so many reasons. Sometimes we dim our light, most importantly, because we don’t truly believe in that light.
“Well, as I started to discover that I didn’t believe in my path, even though I found my path, I started to work on myself. I started to work. And that took like, me sittin’ down reading books that fed me. That meant goin’ out listening and having conversations with people — intelligent people. That meant be able to listen in conversations. I started to pray and meditate more. Waking up in the morning, saying the things that I wanted. Declaring what I wanted. Believin’ it and speakin’ it till I started believe in it more and more. And one of the powerful things that happened, the more you believe, the more you start to surround yourself with people who believe.”
Later in the talk, the Academy Award-winning actor/musician recalled receiving five Grammy nominations for his work on 2006’s Be. During the 48th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, he watched his “They Say” collaborator Kanye West win three Grammys for Late Registration, while Common walked away with nothing.
“Kanye is there with his mother Dr. Donda West, John Legend was there with his mother and I’m there with my mother,” he explained. “On the way to the Grammys, they announced two of my awards that I was up for. I didn’t win those two. So I’m like, ‘Cool, I got three speeches and three Grammys, I’m good.’ It’s a beautiful night. John Legend wins, Kanye wins a couple. They announce two more of the awards I was up for, and I didn’t get those two. I’m like, ‘Damn, I’m about to cram all my speech into one.’ Ludacris comes out to announce Best Hip Hop Album. I’m like, this is serendipitous because Ludacris has been a guy who had told me, ‘Man you influenced me as a Hip Hop artist.’
“I was like, ‘This worked out. It’s cool. So, Ludacris comes out and Kayne turns around to me and says, ‘Yeah, you got this one.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah I got this one.’ Ludacris opens the envelope, and I see the joy and I was like, ‘Thank God!’ He opens it up and says, ‘Yo, y’all give it up for my man Kanye West.’ So I’m standing up clapping. I got that little smile on my face when I’m really hurtin’ but you know, I’m happy for my man, but I’m like, ‘I didn’t get one award?’ I really believed that I was going to get those Grammys.”
He was taught a tough lesson that night.
“Believing in your path is only the second step to greatness,” he said. “Living your path is the completion of it.”
Common, who had already won a Grammy in 2003 in the Best R&B Song category for Badu’s “Love Of My Life (An Ode To Hip Hop),” went on to win two more Grammys in subsequent years. He’s up for an Academy Award this year for “Stand Up For Something” featuring Diane Warren.
If he wins, it will mark his second Oscar. At the 2015 Academy Awards, Common won in the Best Original Song category for his work on “Glory” with John Legend.
The 90th Annual Academy Awards air on Sunday (March 4).